- Best of Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Island: High Tea to Low Tide
- Vancouver’s Totem Poles
- Vancouver’s Best Hiking
- Family Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
- Focus on Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Weekend Getaway
- Victoria Weekend Getaway
- A Tour Through Time
- Inside Passage Cruises
- Outdoor Adventures
- Winter Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
In 1792, Captain George Vancouver cruised through the Strait of Georgia, charting Burrard Inlet and claiming the land for Great Britain. In 1808, fur trader/explorer Simon Fraser established a trading post east of today’s Vancouver on the river that now bears his name.
The settlement of Vancouver began with the establishment of a brickworks on the south side of Burrard Inlet. Sawmills and related logging and lumber industries followed, and soon several boomtowns were carved out of the wilderness. The first was Granville (now downtown Vancouver), which the original settlers called “Gastown” after one of its earliest residents, notorious saloon owner “Gassy Jack” Deighton.
A Growing City
Selected as the western terminus for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1887, Vancouver suddenly became Canada’s transportation gateway to eastern Asia and an important player in the development of international commerce around the Pacific Rim. Over the next three decades, Granville Island and the far reaches of Burrard Inlet sprawled with industry, the West End developed as a residential area, the University of British Columbia grew in stature, and the opening of the Lions Gate Bridge encouraged settlement on the north side of Burrard Inlet.
From what began just 120 years ago as a cluster of ramshackle buildings centered around a saloon, Vancouver has blossomed into one of the world’s greatest cities. While the city holds the largest port on North America’s west coast, boasting 20 specialized terminals that handle more tonnage than any other port in Canada (around $50 billion worth of goods annually), it is now a lot less reliant on its traditional economic heart for growth.
The high-tech industry continues as the fastest-growing sector of Vancouver’s economy. Worth $6 billion in 2009, this knowledge-based industry has both revitalized the local economy and created a major shift in government thinking. Tourism contributes more than $5 billion annually to the local economy, with finance, real estate, insurance, and manufacturing also forming large slices of the local economic pie.
Vancouver is also North America’s third-largest movie-making center (behind Los Angeles and New York), employing up to 50,000 people on as many as 30 productions simultaneously.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition